Kurt Weiser uses ceramics to examine ‘Eden’ in an unusual way

By Bethie Girmai

“Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Art of Kurt Weiser”

Artist: Kurt Weiser

Now through… “Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Art of Kurt Weiser”

Artist: Kurt Weiser

Now through March 20

Society for Contemporary Craft

2100 Smallman St.

For Kurt Weiser, discussing his artwork takes the same priority as keeping a pet in line.Although the Arizona State University professor is a highly regarded artist,you wouldn’t know by just talking to him. Weiser regaled The Pitt News with stories of how he became drawn to art, what inspires him and what fueled his exceptional passion for ceramics, all the while disciplining his 4-month-old golden lab puppy.The Kansas City Art Institute and University of Michigan graduate explained that even though he majored in ceramics, his interest in art stemmed from an early age.“I never wanted to do anything else,” Weiser said. “My mother used to put me in a chair and give me a box of crayons so I would shut up — at least that’s what she says.”Weiser said that although he has experimented with other modes of art, his true love has always been ceramics. “I like to draw and paint, and I did a lot of art that has more to do with imagery for a long time, until I got a little older and realized I could do them both at the same time,” he said.Weiser explained that he got his first taste of ceramics in high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan.“It was an arts and music school and I was a painting student, but you had to take ceramics because it was part of the curriculum. So I took it, and that’s how I got into it,” he said.Weiser explained that his focus on Asian ceramics stemmed from what he was taught in school.“When I was a student in ceramics, we always looked at Asian ceramics, and that was what we sort of considered ideal because that’s what our teachers thought was ideal. The European stuff we never looked at because it just seemed like the sort of ceramics your grandma would have in her house,” he said.The artist went on to explain that the field of ceramics was heavily influenced by what was popular in the rest of the art world.

“At the time in the painting world, Abstract Expressionism was a big deal, and Asian ceramics was more in tune with that than representational stuff or European ceramics. European ceramics was too close to home so it wasn’t cool. It was the exotic stuff that was cool,” he said.Weiser claimed that his environment growing up had a significant hand in steering him toward the field of ceramics.“I just liked the idea of containing things. I had a need to control the art and enclose it in a space. I thought that ever since I was a kid — because I grew up in the country — we had dirt roads we’d use as clay. We’d bring in all this clay and make pots out of it and pipes that we could smoke oak leaves in,” Weiser said.The artist explained that he has a habit of drawing inspiration for his pieces from other art.“I like natural history museums a lot more than art museums. Just all that nature is so interesting. To me that science and expiration was fascinating. It’s a combination of that and being an observer because it’s a natural thing, and people do it all the time,” Weiser said.Weiser stressed that the most important things for a budding artist to have are confidence, persistence and dedication.“If you really want to be successful don’t consider anything else. If you think you’re going to be successful, and you believe it, it pretty much happens. If you doubt yourself, it makes it too hard,” he said.Weiser’s collection, “Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Art of Kurt Weiser,” began Jan. 15 and will run through March 20 in the Society for Contemporary Craft in Downtown Pittsburgh.